ZocdocAnswersWhat can I do about chronic neck pain?

Question

What can I do about chronic neck pain?

I work at a computer all day long and my neck always feel stiff by the end of the day when it seems like my shoulders are up around my ears! Some days I even suffer from mild headaches, and my neck pain seems to extend all the way down my back. I also hate what this is doing to my posture, since I feel very round shouldered all of the time. I can't quit working, so what is the best way to avoid having sore neck muscles from sitting at a desk job all day long? Are there exercises I can do to help prevent this chronic tired feeling? Does my chair make a difference?

Answer

It sounds like your work is indeed causing some unintended side effects with your health! You have definitely thought this through in a very logical way, and mild headaches, neck pain, and changes with posture are all associated with work activities that require you to be sitting in place for long stretches of time. In your situation, the best thing to do is see your primary care physician right away for two things. First, it will be important to do a brief but thorough physical exam to make sure that you don't have any acute neurological deficits that would require more urgent imaging or evaluation. Second, if your physical exam is unremarkable for emergent issues, you will definitely want to be referred to a physical therapist. A therapist can absolutely address your questions and help you a) learn exercises to do at home that will help prevent the muscle fatigue and strain you have experienced b) learn exercises that will help with maintaining good posture and c) potentially identify some devices (chairs etc) that might be helpful to use at work to help correct and maintain good posture and muscle alignment. Hopefully this kind of multidisciplinary intervention will help your symptoms resolve shortly!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.